End of an era for the 879th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
By Lt. Col. Jason W. Hull, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group
/ Published December 18, 2017
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- It’s the end of an era for the U.S. Air Force, as the 879th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Teams departed Eskan Village Compound, Saudi Arabia, in December.
After more than 12 years of enduring operations, the Air Force transferred the authority of one of its most unique force protection missions to the U.S. Army; a transition that was originally planned to happen nearly a decade earlier.
On Sept. 5, 2005, the Air Force activated 64th Air Expeditionary Group and accepted the responsibility of providing force protection and operational support at (an undisclosed location) from the Army. For nearly eight years, the 64 AEG continued the force protection and operations support mission.
In 2014, the AEG was inactivated, and replaced by the 879th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.
While the size of the unit and scope of operational support were substantially decreased, the overall mission of force protection and self-sustainment as a geographically separated unit was upheld.
Charged with the unique mission of providing force protection for 25% of the U.S. government's foreign military sales, training and advisory missions; supporting government agencies in executing short-notice security for the president and other distinguished visitors; and ensuring the expedited diplomatic clearance of U.S. and UK air missions transitioning through Saudi air space, the 879 ESFS exceeded all expectations.
Col. Thomas Bongiovi, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander, officiated the transfer of authority for the force protection mission from Lt. Col. Nathan M. Murray, 879 ESFS commander, to Capt. Filipe Marquez, 341st Military Police Company commander, at Eskan Village, Sept. 25, 2017.
With the force protection mission successfully transitioned to the Army and the diplomatic clearance mission being absorbed by U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the 879 ESFS was inactivated during the transfer of authority ceremony.